Ageless Faith for a Vacillating America
OCTOBER 01, 1972 by ROBERT G. BEARCE
Mr. Bearce is a free-lance writer in Houston, Texas.
Man acts according to his faith. Even those who ridicule faith in God, in freedom, in the individual — even tyrants — have a degree of faith in the brute force they employ. and, unfortunately, this faith in coercion is spreading its contagion of gloom and doom, causing stalwart Americans to doubt the faith of our Fathers.
Robert K. Walker, a Tennessee attorney, spelled out the problem in 1968:
People who think well of themselves collectively exhibit enthusiasm and morale. When nations cease believing in themselves, when they regard their institutions with cynicism and their traditions with flippancy, they will not long remain great nations.
If America is the world’s "last hope," contemplate the worldwide oppression and human degradation if we cannot rejuvenate our faith:
· Faith in God
· Faith in Freedom
· Faith in the Individual
· Faith in our Heritage
· Faith in Ourselves
If we can revive a profound faith in God we will have taken the first step toward revitalizing the moral, economic, political, and social fabric of the United States. Faith in God gives man a proper perspective of his place on earth. We are imperfect mortals, while only God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Belief in the Creator also demands an adherence to certain absolute, enduring values and principles. These standards and laws may be broken by man but never changed. When individuals and nations acknowledge God and His laws, they create an atmosphere where prosperity, peace, harmony, and freedom are nurtured. When man transgresses the eternal laws, he enslaves himself.
Faith in God was early reflected by our forefathers. In their rigorous way, the Puritans and other fundamentalist sects were acknowledging the supreme power of the Creator and their need for His guidance.
Thomas Jefferson expressed it thus in 1785:
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God —that they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.
Benjamin Franklin also echoed the early faith:
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
Faith in God was written into the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal…." The signers were expressing their belief in two truths. First, they believed that certain eternal wisdom existed for all men and all posterity. These laws were "self-evident." Secondly, man’s equality was the gift of a supreme Creator. Men were "created" equal in the sight of God. Government, or "society," had nothing to do with bestowing equality.
Those who said: "That they [men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," were again stating their faith in God. They were saying that God — not government, or society, or the State — should be the ultimate object of man’s allegiance. These rights were entrusted to man by God, not privileges bequeathed by any government.
Faith in Freedom
Because the Founding Fathers had a resolute faith in God, they also had a perceptive faith in freedom, i.e., confidence in and dependence upon individual choice. They recognized that God coerced no man to love and follow Him, so they, too, put their trust in individual freedom and accountability.
Men like Jefferson and John Adams observed that individual freedom and personal responsibility were inseparable. If man has the inherent, God-given right to voluntarily make choices and to order his own life as he pleases, then he also must accept the consequences of his personal conduct and choice. He must be personally accountable for his use of the freedom with which he is entrusted.
This tenacious faith in freedom was expressed in their determination to create a constitutional republic — not a democracy — which would provide a maximum of freedom for the individual and a minimum of coercion in the hands of the government, only that amount needed to prosecute the abusers of freedom. In this atmosphere of a minimum of force against men and a maximum of voluntary action, a tremendous outburst of individual creativity, ingenuity, and energy blessed America. The Founding Fathers adhered to the eternal law that the blessings derived from individual creativity and voluntary association can never be harnessed by or replaced by government intervention.
Freedom is for the individual. Freedom for government means oppressive taxation and servitude. Freedom centers upon the individual and his inherent right to pursue his own life without interference or coercion. If America is not to deteriorate, we too must place the burden for constructive change and harmony in our communities upon the freely-given and spontaneous love of the individual. Consider the following maxim: To the extent that we make the State the mechanism for social and economic stability, we will see a proportionate erosion of the political, economic, moral, and spiritual foundations of the United States.
Coercive Reform Measures Rather than Voluntary Action
Regrettably, the notion is spreading that government can alleviate social ills more effectively than can individuals working spontaneously and voluntarily. Imagine the consternation at the following proposition:
Resolved: That the care of all America’s needy will be placed in the hands of private charity groups, the church, and the family — terminating the present governmental responsibility and thus freeing the American citizen of a portion of his tax burden presently created by "welfare" programs.
Such a proposal to abolish government-sponsored welfare would invoke howls of righteous indignation and disbelief from the faithless. Ask such a person if he would willingly contribute to the support of his own parents in their old age or contribute to a responsible charitable organization or his church for the aid of those honestly in need. His answer will be a sincere and enthusiastic "yes." He believes himself to be compassionate and charitable, but he won’t say the same of his fellow man; unless the Federal government intervenes and coerces through taxation and economic redistribution, people will starve! His faith rests in coercive legislation and taxation rather than in the voluntary love and charity of individuals.
What is worse, it can be seen that the cynic’s faith in God and freedom ends where his confidence in and dependence upon the benevolent State begins. Although God loved man and had faith enough in His creation to give the individual freedom to choose and reject, our modern state-interventionists believe that individuals can not be left to their own personal freedom and accountability.
A Proud Heritage
Fortunately, these people who have lost faith in the enduring standards must fight a well-established tradition. America has a profoundly-rooted faith in freedom, in the dignity of the individual, and in the laws of God which govern human nature. Tradition may be scorned by the avant-garde "progressives" in political, economic, religious, and educational institutions, but its hold in the hearts of Americans in general is not easily broken.
We have a proud heritage, one whose milestones are inscribed with toil, dignity, courage, and faith — faith in the works of previous generations. Our heritage and our history attest to the absolute laws and principles to which man must always adhere if he aspires to dignity and prosperity.
The corrupters of our heritage threaten to create a fatal vacuum. Our history holds our mistakes, our successes, our hopes and dreams, and our hard-won knowledge of the paths which must be followed if our country is to survive. Our heritage should be studied, cherished, and its meaning passed on to future generations in defiance of those who are now making a profession of flogging America.
Men will continue to reject freedom and the worth and accountability of the individual. They will defy God and debauch our heritage. But the inspiring story of our heritage can never be destroyed, only belittled and dishonored. The seeds of freedom have been sown. It is our task to reap the harvest, to preserve the seed, and to prepare the soil for future harvests.
Ultimately, we arrive at the need for faith in ourselves. Though the Pilgrim fathers en trusted their lives to God, they must have had faith in themselves as God’s earthly tools. They recognized that, like all men, they were special creatures in the sight of God. They were men of individual worth and dignity. And they acted as such! Throughout the colonization and settlement of America, their posterity exhibited the same individualism and self-respect. They sweated over the plow, toiled with the harvest, hacked roads through the wilderness, trudged thousands of miles across the desert, and prayed —and they built a land of freedom and human dignity.
None of this progress was distributed on golden saucers for the asking; it wasn’t accomplished overnight by blissful theorizing; and it was not masterminded by any politician who wanted to administer welfare tonics and pablum to the American populace.
Signs of Despair
Too many of our fellow citizens are quitting in despair. They have lost faith in themselves, forgotten our heritage, refuse to trust the individual to make his own choice, and lack faith in God. This sullen apathy and mood of defeatism is like a cancer on America, deadly if not removed.
Most folks still believe in the foundations of our Faith, but they are woefully short on physical, mental, and spiritual enthusiasm. They lack the enthusiastic commitment to give that faith meaning. To believe in freedom is admirable, but faith without works is dead. The optimistic attitude is a part of faith, a key to successful practice.
Our personal commitment to the eternal ideals of our Faith must be contagious. The demand of this hour in history is for men who will respond to that trust in God, freedom, the individual, our heritage, and ourselves. Today we read a dateless, ageless "want ad" for men who will be articulate, sincere, dedicated, forthright, and vibrant in expressing that Faith.
The fire of human endeavor is continually subjected to water and oil — the water poured on it by those who through ignorance or design seek to extinguish human dignity — and the oil of Faith of those who have dedicated themselves to replenishing the fire of man’s integrity through confidence in individualism, freedom, their heritage, and God.